Mar 222008

What CarWhat Car? has revealed the massive savings available to car owners who shop around for servicing – and the savings are literally just around the corner.

What Car?’s team of mystery shoppers called franchised and independent garages for quotes on four top selling cars within a 20-mile radius of locations in London, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow.

Overall, the biggest saving was a huge £140.00 on the Skoda Fabia – one franchised dealer quoted £280.00 for it’s eighth annual service versus a quote of £140.00 from an independent garage less than 10 miles away. Average savings were £32.00 on a Mazda 6, £40.00 on a Citroen Picasso, £56.00 on a Ford Focus and £64.00 on the Skoda Fabia.

Nearly all franchised dealers contacted struggled to be competitive against even the most expensive independents. Only one franchised dealership, a Mazda dealer, beat the price quoted by a local independent garage.  Quotes also varied within the franchised and independent networks themselves. The most notable variation was £90 between the cheapest and most expensive franchised dealer in the Skoda network.

What Car? Consumer Editor Peter Lawton said ‘With everyone feeling the squeeze on their finances more than ever this year, who can afford not to spend five minutes on the phone doing some research to save on car servicing?

‘We worked out that we saved around £7.00 for every minute we spent on the phone obtaining prices.’

A poll also found that 43% of motorists still think their new car warranty is invalidated if they use an independent for servicing. It is nearly four years since the Office of Fair Trading forced manufacturers to remove restrictive clauses from warranties, allowing consumers to take their cars to independent garages rather than franchised dealerships.

‘We would encourage motorists to consider independent garages, but to also follow a few simple guidelines. The garage must stick to the letter of the manufacturer’s service schedule and use genuine parts or those of an equivalent standard. Also, look out for garages that have won a BSI Automotive Kitemark for reaching a set level of service,’  said Peter Lawton.

Aug 232007

Labour ratesWith garages charging up to £183.30 an hour for a mechanic, it’s no surprise to hear that British motorists forked out more than £3.7bn on labour to fix their cars last year.

The unique Warranty Direct Labour Rates Survey 2007, which compares franchised and independent garages, also highlighted the massive North South divide when it comes to the cost of motoring.  Visitors to can now check regional differences for mechanic labour charges.

For every £100 spent at a garage, £63 is spent on materials and £37 on labour according to analysis of Warranty Direct data*. In total, motorists spent nearly £10bn** last year servicing and repairing their vehicles, and paid for more than 504,000 mechanic hours.

Unsurprisingly, Greater London is the most expensive region in the country with an average labour rate of £89.78 per hour when combining both franchised and independent garages.

The Capital was also home to the most expensive dealer in the country charging an incredible £183.30 an hour – the equivalent of 41 gallons of fuel or 1,500 miles***.

The ten highest counties were all from the South of England, including Hertfordshire (£86.68), Essex (£80.20) and Berkshire (£78.76).

Ten Most Expensive Regions

Average Cost of Mechanic per hour

Top Least Expensive Regions

Average Cost of Mechanic per hour


Greater London

























































Perth & Kinross



Conversely, the cheapest part of the country found by Warranty Direct was Fife with garages charging £55.40 on average. Besides Cornwall (£62.68), Lancashire at £61.67 an hour was the most southerly region in the ten least expensive areas.

There remains a significant difference between choosing a franchised dealership over an independent garage at £89.31 and £49.92 an hour nationwide, respectively.

The data is based on labour rates from more than 3,856 franchised and independent garages across the UK.

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Media information:

Call Andy Francis or Andy Bothwell at Performance PR on 0208 541 3434, or email

Aug 102006

Repair BillsThe cheapest and most expensive garages in Britain

London is officially the most expensive place in Britain to get your car fixed with garages charging up to £170 an hour, a new report revealed today.

According to the 2006 Warranty Direct Garage Labour Rates Survey, which compares franchised and independent garages, British motorists fork out an average of £72.28 an hour for a mechanic’s time – with the Capital topping the table at an average of £86.51 or £116.53 if you opt for a franchised dealer.

Across franchised dealers, the national average jumps to £91.07, and falls to £49.61 for independent workshops. The most expensive dealer over the past twelve months charged £170.61 an hour, with one independent billing a customer £117.45.

Oxfordshire proved to be the most expensive region as far as independent garages were concerned. It recorded an average of £67.20 an hour, more than twice as much as the comparable rates for Lanarkshire, Scotland (£32.12).

Similarly, the £116.53 an hour being charged by franchised dealers in London to carry out repairs was almost 60 percent more than the cheapest region, Cornwall (£70.34).

Five Most Expensive Regions For Franchised Dealers


Average Labour Rate

Max Labour Rate Recorded
















Five Least Expensive Regions For Franchised Dealers


Average Labour Rate

Max Labour Rate Recorded










North Yorkshire






The nationwide analysis of over 3,000 workshops by aftermarket warranty provider, Warranty Direct, discovered that the £100 an hour barrier was breached in eight out of ten regions (52 were examined in total). Even Lanarkshire, which recorded the lowest rates for independents, delivered a £112.80 per hour charge for one of its franchised dealers.

“After a couple of years of excessive rises, mechanic labour rates have started to stabilise but it’s obvious that there is still a major gulf between regions, and independent and franchised garages,” says Duncan McClure Fisher, spokesman for Warranty Direct.

The disparity between franchised and dealer labour rates is perhaps starkest in the West Midlands where the average is £66.35 an hour, but as high as £117.45 (franchised) or as low as just £23.50 (independent) – the cheapest recorded.


Five Most Expensive Regions For Independent Workshops


Average Labour Rate

Max Labour Rate Recorded







East Sussex










Five Least Expensive Regions For Independent Workshops


Average Labour Rate

Max Labour Rate Recorded
















“The latest findings show that garage rates are still extortionate, but motorists can help themselves by asking how much they charge an hour. Unfortunately, once you get the bill, it’s too late to yell,” adds McClure Fisher.

All rates include VAT.

For the full report visit

Jun 292004

Repair BillsMotorists are being charged as much as £152.75 an hour for labour to get their cars repaired, according to data released by independent automotive warranty specialist, Warranty Direct ( today.

Analysis of twenty-seven manufacturers highlights the dramatic variation across the country with the headline £152.75 an hour being charged by a BMW franchised dealer in Central London. This figure compares to a combined franchised and independent garage average of £56.72 for the whole country.

The Thames Valley belt of Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Wiltshire and Gloucestershire is the most expensive region in the UK with an average hourly charge of £68.61. Scotland is the cheapest, nearly sixty percent less, with an average of just £43.12.

Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar, Porsche and Audi dealers provided the five most expensive rates recorded by Warranty Direct. At the other end, Mazda delivered an average of £44 an hour, yet the dearest franchised dealer noted would set you back double that figure. Similarly, a Ford may cost £50 on average but a London franchised dealer will charge £106.


Highest Franchised Dealer Labour Rate   Recorded

Average Labour Rate Recorded
(Franchised & Independent)

Thames   Valley



North   London






South   London



North   West



Northern   Ireland



South   Coast






North   East






South   West









After pressure from the OFT, manufacturers have recently lifted servicing restrictions allowing owners to freely choose where they have their new car serviced.

“Unfortunately, manufacturers don’t have any control over dealer labour rates, hence the sometimes truly extortionate charges some motorists are having to stomach,” explained Duncan McClure Fisher of Warranty Direct. “Everyone appreciates that the cost of living differs across the country but surely not to this level?”

Compared to the previous twelve months, Warranty Direct has registered a three-fold increase in the number of franchised dealers charging over £100 an hour.

“The obvious advice is to shop around, and as manufacturers have effectively given them a stamp of approval, don’t ignore established or specialist independent garages. The service is just as professional and competent but you don’t always have to pay the price,” added McClure Fisher.

The data is based on claims handled by Warranty Direct since June 2003 and its annual survey of franchised dealer rates from across the UK.